The Green Ribbons Have Finally Arrived – Read all About Them!

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

The Green Ribbons Have Finally Arrived – Read all About Them!

On Monday, Chair of White House Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley and Acting Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Bob Persiacepe joined U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to celebrate Earth Day by announcing the second annual U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools  and first-ever District Sustainability Awardees. Sixty-four schools and 14 districts were selected for their exemplary efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, promote better health, and ensure effective environmental education, including civics and green career pathways.  Watch the announcement here.>>>

These schools and districts provide examples of how to excel in all of three award Pillars – whatever a school or district’s resources.  In fact, the selected districts are saving millions of dollars as a result of their greening efforts.  Read all about their exemplary, yet replicable, practices here.  Then, your school can draw on the same free tools these honorees use through the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Strides Resources and Webinar Series.

Here are a few highlights from this year’s honorees:

Reading Elementary School, Reading, VT

Students design covered bridges and let their goats roam

Reading Community School is a small school doing big things. Reading students researched and designed a covered bridge which allows the school and community to access a woodland area across a stream near the school.  While working on the bridge, the school discovered poison ivy along the stream.  Fifth and sixth grade students researched strategies to eliminate the poison ivy.  They decided that the most health and environment protecting pest-eradicator was … goats.  They presented the idea to the school board, which dispatched a herd of boar goats that ate the poison ivy in three months, and made friends with the students in the process.  >>>

Douglas County School District, CO

Over $14 million saved in six years

From 1990-2010 Douglas County School District (DCSD) was the fastest growing school district in the top 100 largest in the U.S. As DCSD develops into a truly world-class school district, it continues to build its sustainability program to support and enhance this growth. DCSD has blended the 10 pathways of Eco Schools USA with the three Pillars of ED-Green Ribbon Schools to develop a district sustainability plan.  The sustainability program has grown from 11 students in one class at one school to over 3,000 students running the energy program across 60+ schools!  Students develop programs at each school, identify challenges and goals, and build programs to achieve these.  Students regularly study the effects of their buildings, develop educational campaigns to teach occupants what they need to do, then implement and lead those programs.  In a real-world sense, they run the sustainability program for the district.  DCSD saved over $14 million in six years and electrical usage has dropped over 20 percent. >>> 

Munford Middle School and Munford High School, Munford, AL

Frogs and birds and tilapia – oh my!

The Munford schools immerse students, 64 percent of whom are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, in a curriculum that emphasizes strategic teaching and authentic learning.  Students have developed a blue bird trail, protected wetlands, encouraged landowners to plant Long-Leaf pine, tracked the migration of the Monarch butterfly, and studied the native species of Alabama.  A biology professor from Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Ala., brought a team of graduate students to the Munford frog pond.  With assistance from a Munford biology class, the group electroshocked the pond for species identification and for signs of the chytrid fungus, a potentially lethal skin disease that is threatening amphibian populations around the world.  Students are also working with Jacksonville State University professors to raise tilapia in six-1,000 gallon tanks in the greenhouse. >>> 

Journey School, Aliso Viejo, CA

Eco-Waldorf grows the whole child green

Journey School is a free, public charter school founded in 2000.  The Journey family eats very well, thanks to a partnership with a local farm, which delivers baskets of fresh organic produce weekly for faculty, students, and parents.  Kindergarten students participate in preparing daily organic snacks that include organic fruits or vegetables, grains such as quinoa, and fresh bread.  Movement activities, dance and forms of creative physical expression are infused into everyday curriculum.  There are two recess periods per day for free play.  Physical education supports developmental capacities -- providing exercise and activities to build small or large motor skills, organization skills, and teach teamwork.  Classrooms and play yard space are organized to maximize movement opportunities.  Students are in the garden weekly for ecoliteracy classes.  >>>

Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools, MN

Whole district E-STEM integration

Environmental education in PLSAS begins in kindergarten and continues through 12th grade.  Teachers use outdoor amphitheaters, gardens, bird landings, and water resources to teach interdisciplinary environmental education lessons to all students.  PLSAS students can be seen ice fishing, snowshoeing, nature journaling, collecting specimens, fishing, picking up trash, planting gardens, canoeing, or bird watching.  Since 2008, the district’s percentage of proficient students on the science assessment has been over 10 percent greater than the state average.  In spring 2012, the PLSAS school board approved the implementation of an Environmental Education, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math focus -- called E-STEM -- for all seven of the district’s elementary schools.  >>>

Green Funding and Resource Opportunities

Attend Free Sessions of the Green Strides Webinar Series

The Green Strides Webinar Series acquaints school communities with the tools to reduce their schools’ environmental impact and costs; improve health and wellness; and teach effective environmental literacy, including STEM, green careers, and civic engagement. Find more sessions for educators, facilities managers, and advocates weekly. >>> 

May 1, 2013, 4-5 p.m. Bringing Climate Change Home (USFS/PLT)

May 8, 2013, 1-2 p.m. School Siting: Impacts on Communities, Health and Environment (EPA)

May 8, 2013, 2-3 p.m. Drinking Water Best Management Practices for Schools (EPA)

May 15, 2013, 4-5 p.m. Engaging your Community on Green Apple Day of Service (USGBC)

May 22, 2013, 4-5 p.m. Teacher Ranger Teacher (NPS)

May 29, 2013, 4-5 p.m.  Authentic Student Voice in GreenSchools! (USFS/PLT)  

June 5, 2013, 4-5 p.m.   A Public Land for Every Classroom (NPS)

June 12, 2013, 4-5 p.m. Summer Reading for Environmental Education (EDN)

Action for Healthy Kids School Grant Program

Through partners such as CSX Transportation, Kellogg Company, and the Walmart Foundation, Action for Healthy Kids is offering School Grants for Healthy Kids opportunities for the 2013-2014 school year.  Over 400 schools will be awarded funds that will range from $1,000 to $5,000 with significant in-kind contributions from Action for Healthy Kids in the form of people, programs, and school nutrition and physical activity expertise.  They’ll also provide schools with management expertise and support to develop strong alternative and universal breakfast or physical activity programs. 

Applications are due May 3, 2013. >>>

Safe Schools: Best Practices in Built Environment Publication

The Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI) released a new publication, “Safe Schools: A Best Practices Guide”.  As leaders in creating safety in the built environment, CEFPI orchestrated a security summit in Washington, D.C. to explore this topic.  This publication is a result of the collaborative effort of the many facility planner and design professionals who participated in this work.>>>

Help Science-Minded Students Prepare for College and STEM Careers

JUMP-START College Planning, a free how-to manual for organizing a conference for science-minded high school students, has been released by the Office of Science Education (OSE) at the National Institutes of Health. This free college-planning manual is based on a highly successful program OSE in collaboration with leaders in science education in the Washington D.C.  The program helps students learn how to apply to college; sign up for the right college courses; and choose from the many career possibilities in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines.>>>


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